Mod Chip Raid Fallout: A Roundup

fbi1.jpgWe already covered the basics of what went down last week when "Operation Tangled Web" took place. GamePolitics has had continuing coverage of some of the little details - like the guy who had a grand total of one mod chip seized from his house. I think most people agree that piracy is generally a bad thing and causes problems for everyone, but shouldn't they be going after heavier hitters (like this guy who was sentenced to two years in prison for making a significant chunk of change off of pirated game and DVD sales) instead of guys with...one mod chip and a soldering iron? Links and some choice quotes after the jump.

First up, we have one account of a raid in Ohio via Xbox-Scene - and while I'm sorry the guy is now up a creek without a paddle, supporting one's self via means of questionable legality is never a particularly smart plan:

... I have been out of work since early May, and modding is the only thing that was keeping me above water with the bills. Now I can't mod, and I can't even sell anything off to pay for bills either since it has all been confiscated due to a ludicrous interpretation of the DCMA. Now it's all said and done, and I just have to wait for them to decide what I did wrong, but while I'm waiting, I have NOTHING of any worth anymore, other than a computer monitor, and my car. Because of what happened I'm not allowed to see my girlfriend and our 4 month old daughter, and last night, I slept in my car and my girlfriend sent me a text message telling me it felt like someone was taking me away from her. They took my life away. I would like to formally thank Microsoft and Nintendo for cracking down on the little guy with a soldering iron in his garage, rather than going after the people that are responsible for the bootlegs being available.

Moving on to the nitty gritty, the Console Tech forums have a post with lots and lots of scans: a copy of the search warrant, and a surprisingly small list compared to what they had the scope to seize (and one, count it, one mod chip - hope the government feels that was worth the expense of manpower and resources to seize it). GP points out that "not shown is the probable cause affidavit, which would have explained the government's basis for the search. That document apparenly [sic]remains sealed by a federal court," which is more than a little odd, especially considering the results were less than thrilling. Wonder what they thought they'd be seizing?

And from the Xbox-scene forums comes a long rant that GP describes as "probably the most lucid, detailed and passionate criticism we've seen concerning last week's Homeland Security raids on mod chippers":

The root of the problem is the DMCA. The ideals behind the DMCA are good but the wording really is far too broad... Digital Rights management is being... abused to technologically lock consumers into a fabricated monopoly... our laws work to criminalise anyone and everyone and designed not in the best interests of the American people but in the best interests of politicians and big businesses.

And finally, conservative and liberal blogs jump into the debate. On the right, we have Conservative Gamer, tying mod chips and the illegal alien debate together:

ICE appears to be diverting resources to going after people with mod chips instead of dealing with the illegal alien influx .... How wonderful. It's great to know our government is looking out for us. Next time I hear someone complain about illegal aliens in their town, I'll just remind them that ICE has more important things to do. They'll understand.

And from the left, Freedom Democrats:

The Copyright Mafia is going to greater and greater lengths to take ownership of American culture. First there is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which effectively allows electronics manufactures to own our equipment even after they have sold it to us. This past week, we received news that reminded us that the Feds are serious about enforcing this new form of ownership....And to make it worse, Google and friends point out that several media companies have been deceitfully undermining our fair use rights, by forcefully claiming that such rights do not exist.

Well, at least there's something that all of us can agree on, even if it's not for the same reasons.

Time will tell what the long-term fall out over these raids (and subsequent crackdowns, perhaps?) will be, but the chatter probably won't die down any time soon. What - if anything - of substance was netted from these raids? What is in those still-sealed probably cause affidavits? What's next?

Check out GamePolitics for what I'm sure will be continuing coverage, and to see their take on the articles posted above.


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